The Commodore 64 is 30

Commodore 64 was the most successful 8-bit micro ever according to The Commodore 64 is 30 article. Commodore 64 made its public debut at the 1982 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), though it wouldn’t go into production until later in the year before going on sale in the US market in August and few months later in Europe.


Inside, Commodore had packed a 6510 processor, an updated version of MOS Technology’s popular 6502, the chip used in the Vic-20, the BBC Micro and many others. In the UK, the 6510 was clocked at 985KHz, though the US version apparently ran at slightly over 1MHz. As the computer’s name suggested, it had 64KB of memory (though only 38KB of that was available to Basic). Basic was stored on a 20KB Rom chip and copied into the main memory when the 64 was booted.


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  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Commodore 64 computer, the creator died

    Commodore founder Jack Tramiel is dead. He was 83 years old.


  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Complete C64 System, Emulated on an STM32

    The Commodore 64 is the worlds bestselling computer, and we’re pretty sure most programmers and engineers above a certain age owe at least some of their career to this brown/beige keyboard that’s also a computer. These engineers are all grown up now, and it’s about time for a few remakes. [Jeri Ellisworth] owes her success to her version, there are innumerable pieces of the C64 circuit floating around for various microcontrollers, and now [Mathias] has emulated everything (except the SID, that’s still black magic) in a single ARM microcontroller.

    This is a direct emulation of the C64, down to individual opcodes in the 6510 CPU of the original. Everything in the original system is emulated, from the VIC, CIAs and VIAs, serial ports, and even the CPU of the 1541 disk drive. The only thing not emulated is the SID chip.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ditch the iPad; Build a Commodore 64 Tablet

    The classic Commodore 64 has had its share of modernizing in the OS department. From its roots starting up a basic prompt, to full high resolution GUI packages like GEOS, to today where [Jim_64] added a tablet like launcher complete with a touch screen interface.

    The GUI itself takes advantage of the high resolution graphics of the C-64 that looks similar to iOS, Icons are selected via cursor keys or joystick (what? no light pen?) and launch the various functions they represent. To add to the tablet-like feel of the OS, an off the shelf 3m touch screen panel and its corresponding RS232 interface board were obtained from digikey.

    cOS has been released for the commodore 64!

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Giving the C64 A WiFi Modem

    If there’s any indication of the Commodore 64’s longevity, it’s the number of peripherals and add-ons that are still being designed and built. Right now, you can add an SD card to a C64, a technology that was introduced sixteen years after the release of the Commodore 64. Thanks to [Leif Bloomquist], you can also add WiFi to the most cherished of the home computers.

    Commodore Wi-Fi Modem

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    World+dog to get retro classic Commodore 64 for Christmas
    Here comes your fully-licenced street-legal retrogasm

    German retro enthusiast Jens Schönfeld of Individual Computers is about to start manufacturing new Commodore 64 cases from the classic home computer company’s original injection moulds.

    His announcement follows a licensing deal with the outfit that now owns Commodore’s trademarks, Polabe Holding.

    Schönfeld’s announcement means his fellow-travellers and soul-mates can have a completely refurbished and fully-legal C64.

    Schönfeld has previously released the C64 Reloaded mainboard, a C64-compatible mainboard, and says he’s preparing two new versions for release “shortly”, partly to meet demand that has long exceeded supply.

    Commodore Back In Germany

    New For Old: c64c-Cases Planned For Autumn 2016

    The first newly branded Commodore products are span-new cases for the C64 computer, using the original injection molds back from the days Commodore Business Machines produced the C64c. Thanks to these new cases a C64 computer can finally be refurbished after all these years.

    2016: New c64-Hardware To Come

    Back in May 2015, the new main board C64 Reloaded (C64R) was released by hardware designer Jens Schönfeld and this with a huge success. This main board fits in any C64-case and is fully compatible with the original C64 computer. Two new versions of this main board are now being prepared for production. Technical details will be published shortly.

    About The C64:

    The Commodore 64 is considered as the best-selling home computer ever. Approximately up to 30 million units have been sold since its introduction in 1982. Despite its top-notch technical configuration at the time, the computer was received as very affordable. This was the basis of its worldwide success in private households.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This Old-Ass Commodore 64 Is Still Being Used to Run an Auto Shop in Poland

    Hell yeah.

    We need to learn a lesson about needless consumerism from this auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland. Because it still uses a Commodore 64 to run its operations. Yes, the same Commodore 64 released 34 years ago that clocked in at 1 MHz and had 64 kilobytes of RAM. It came out in 1982, was discontinued in 1994, but it’s still used to run a freaking company in 2016. That’s awesome.

    Here’s what Commodore USA’s Facebook page wrote regarding the computer:

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hackaday Prize Entry: The FPGA Commodore

    The history of Commodore 8-bit computers ends with a fantastically powerful, revolutionary, and extraordinarily collectible device. The Commodore 65 was the chicken lip’ last-ditch effort to squeeze every last bit out of the legacy of the Commodore 64. Basically, it was a rework of a 10-year-old design, adding advanced features from the Amiga, but still retaining backwards compatibility. Only 200 prototypes were produced, and when these things hit the auction block, they can fetch as much as an original Apple I.

    For their Hackaday Prize entry, resident FPGA wizard [Antti Lukats] and a team of retrocomputing enthusiasts are remaking the Commodore 65. Finally, the ultimate Commodore 8-bit will be available to all. Not only is this going to be a perfect replica of what is arguably the most desirable 8-bit computer of all time, it’s going to have new features like HDMI, Ethernet, and connections for a lot of FPGA I/O pins.


    MEGA65 is an open-source new and open C65-like computer.
    Hardware designs and software are open-source (LGPL).

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hacked Headset Brings VR to the Commodore 64

    Not if [jim_64] has anything to say about it. He’s created a pair of virtual-reality goggles for the C64, and the results are pretty neat. Calling them VR is a bit of a stretch, since that would imply the headset is capable of sensing the wearer’s movements, which it’s not. With just a small LCD screen tucked into the slot normally occupied by a smartphone in the cheap VR goggles [jim64] used as a foundation for his build, this is really more of a 3D wearable display — so far.

    VR64, Virtual Reality Goggles for the Commodore 64

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Commodore 64 makes a half-sized comeback
    The keyboard’s cosmetic in this ‘retro-games-baked-onto ROM’ with HDMI and USB caper

    The Commodore 64 is coming back, in a form that owes a debt to both Nintendo’s shrunken Mini SNES and thee Vega+ Sinclair ZX Spectrum reboot.

    The due-in-early 2018 “C64 Mini” matches Nintendo’s plan to shrink an old machine, in this case by 50 per cent. Like the Mini and the Vega+ the revived Commodore will pack in pre-loaded retro games, 64 of them to be precise. The device will also ship with a USB joystick boasting 80s styling, HDMI out so it can connect to modern tellies and USB-mini for power.

    Things get a bit weird after that as the company behind the machine, Retro Games Ltd, says “As befits a home computer you can also plug in a standard USB PC keyboard and use as a classic C64 to type in those old BASIC computer listings or program new games.”

    The company says the machine also offers “Accurate C64 operation”, which is to be expected given its apparently a licensed production. You’ll also get “Pixel filter options (sharp, CRT, scanline emulation) and Pixel perfect graphics”. A Save Game option has been added, presumably with the help of some built-in memory.

    Price has been set at £69.99/$69.99/€79.99 and the machine will “hit the shops in early 2018” with Koch Media handling distribution.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emulating A Complete Commodore 64

    When the Commodore 64 was released in 1982, it was a masterpiece of engineering.

    [Frank Bösing] has just managed to emulate an entire C64 on a Teensy 3.6. The Teensy uses an exceptionally powerful microcontroller, but this is a labor of love and code.

    The inspiration for this project comes from a reverse-engineered SID chip that was ported to the Teensy 3.2.

    Commodore C64 Emulator

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Internet Archive Launches a Commodore 64 Emulator

    The Internet Archive has launched a free, browser-based Commodore 64 Emulator with over 10,500 programs that are “working and tested for at least booting properly.”

    Software Library: C64

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESP8266 NTSC C64 Emulator
    A C64 emulator on the ESP8266 with NTSC output.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This board is a hardware implementation (FPGA) of the entire C64, and it includes the Ultimate-II+ as well. An ALL IN ONE solution!

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Christian rock band hid a C64 program on a vinyl album in 1984

    YouTube classic computing enthusiast makes an odd discovery

    The album is “Electric Eye” by the band Prodigal. They hid the program in the runout groove, which also has “C-64” and other things etched on it. And sure enough, 8-Bit Show and Tell managed to record the analog audio of that program, transfer it to a magnetic cassette, and load-asterisk that sucker

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Connect USB Joystick to Commodore C64 © GPL3+

    HW equipment for classic home computers such as C64 gets old. Joysticks wear out and are hardly repairable. Can new equipment be used?

    The idea: Use two Competition Pro joysticks which are available still today as vintage rebuild but with USB. Important to know: There are two variants available. One which as a slower USB polling rate and one with a high polling rate (125 Hz). In some forums you can read about complaints that the slow polling rate is too slow. So, make sure to get the one with the high polling rate.

    Option 1: Connect the micro switches in the joystick and mount a C64 compatible connector. See

    Option 2: Convert the USB port into C64 control port digital signals by using an Arduino –> This is described here.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A great price for a cheap BASIC – but with an extremely expensive legacy

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Visual cycle-stepped 6502 CPU emulator


  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How “oldschool” graphics worked Part 1 – Commodore and Nintendo

    In part 1, I cover the limitations of color on older 1980′s computers and game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Commodore 64.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emulating a Commodore 64 on an STM32F429 Discovery Board
    This emulator features a 2.4″ LCD display, USB OTG jack, USB keyboard support, and offers full 6502 emulation.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    When the Commodore 64 Ruled Personal Computing

    In the early 1980s—when the average cost of a personal computer was $2700, and the average American earned just over $14,500 per year—Jack Tramiel decided to do for computers what Henry Ford had done for cars with the Model T: roll out a model that could be manufactured cheaply and efficiently, allowing more people to have PCs in their homes. “We design for the masses, not the classes,” Tramiel once famously said.

    The result of Tramiel’s effort was the Commodore 64, a personal computer that brought home hardware from the sterile aisles of specialty stores to mass market retailers like Kmart. Priced at $595 in September 1982, it quickly fell to $400, then $300, and eventually $190. Unlike most PCs of the era, the Commodore 64 could play games. Like the Model T, it didn’t have the sexiest aesthetic—the boxy keyboard housed its guts, while a separate monitor quickly crowded one’s workspace—but it was cheap enough to sell 500,000 units a month. To this day, it remains the best-selling single model of computer of all time

    Tramiel’s aim was economy, and he bought his own chip manufacturer, MOS, to keep costs down. The result of their efforts was the 6502 processor, which could be rolled out inexpensively and rapidly. After the success of Commodore’s VIC-20, a $300 PC that had a color monitor (unheard-of at that price point), Tramiel focused all of his company’s resources on the Commodore 64.

    The C64 had 64 kilobytes of RAM, a speedier 6510 processor, and a music synthesizer. While not quite in the league of the most expensive computers of the era, it outworked the Apple II

    Tramiel hoped it would be a kind of gateway computer, capable of introducing home users to BASIC programming language while amusing them with a library of educational and entertainment software.

    Tramiel was so enthusiastic about the potential of the C64 that he rushed it to market, cramming its parts into old VIC-20 cabinets and prompting a quarter of the shipped units to arrive defective. It didn’t do much to undermine the launch; Tramiel sent clear instructions to retailers telling them to exchange bad units without hassle. The machine took off, selling for $595 and promising an eclectic end-user experience. Opposing machines like the Apple IIc, Apple Macintosh, and IBM PC Junior, Tramiel’s model cost just a fraction of the price and, subjectively at least, was far more entertaining.

    As manufacturing costs dropped—the unit cost Tramiel about $135 to produce—so did the price of the C64. Tramiel offered a $100 trade-in allowance for people who brought in old hardware, and even allowed retailers to accept old video game consoles like the Atari 2600. By 1984, the Commodore 64 represented a staggering 30 percent of the home computing market.

    While the price point was appealing, it was Tramiel’s distribution strategy that surprised competitors. Rather than stick to computer stores, the Commodore 64 was stocked at mass market retailers in much the same way television and game systems had broken out of their hobbyist markets. Seeing a Commodore 64 display at Sears helped normalize the idea of home computing.

    Even at its lowest price point of under $200, a fully expanded C64 setup could run $1000 (which would be just over $2600 in today’s dollars).

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It would be an understatement to say that the Commodore 64 demo scene is quite amazing. For those who are unaware, a ‘demo’ in this context is essentially a technological demonstration. Usually to show off particular effects or other (visual) properties that either push the limits of the platform on which it is being run, or use its hardware in a special fashion. …

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Freespin is a Commodore 1541 demo, released in 2021. It runs on the Commodore floppy drive. It is is the first demo on this device.

    Freespin generates sound/music using the floppy drive mechanic (in particular, the stepper motor responsible for moving the head to the right track). Video is generated through the serial bus. The video signal needs to be connected to the drive’s two output lines as shown in the following diagram

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dial-a-SID Is A Glorious Chiptune Jukebox

    Old-school rotary telephones aren’t particularly useful for their original intended purpose in this day and age, but they’re great fun to hack into new projects. [Linus Åkesson] has done just that, with his Dial-a-SID jukebox build.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:


    ‘From Bedrooms to Billions’ is a feature film documentary telling the story of the British Video Games Industry. Commodore 64 composer legend Rob Hubbard talks here about why he bought a Commodore 64 and his early attempts at making it sing!. (Excerpt from the Special Features).

    Holy crap, that SID chip had something in it. And Rob Hubbard is a proper genius.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TheC64 Maxi – Full sized C64 review and disassembly

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Q&A With Co-Creator of the 6502 Processor Bill Mensch on the microprocessor that powered the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I suppose someone has to point out that the Atari 2600 used the 6507 variant and not the 6502.

    …and that the Commodore 64 used the 6510 variant.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Classic 80s Text-To-Speech On Classic 80s Hardware

    Those of us who were around in the late 70s and into the 80s might remember the Speak & Spell, a children’s toy with a remarkable text-to-speech synthesizer. While it sounds dated by today’s standards, it was revolutionary for the time and was riding a wave of text-to-speech functionality that was starting to arrive to various computers of the era. While a lot of them used dedicated hardware to perform the speech synthesis, some computers were powerful enough to do this in software, but others were not quite able. The VIC-20 was one of the latter, but thanks to an ESP8266 it has been retroactively given this function.


    If you owned a C64, an Atari or an Apple computer, then you might be familiar with the synthetic sound of the voice of SAM. The Software based text-to-speech speech synthesizer package that required no additional hardware. But if back then, you only had a VIC-20 then you missed out, because SAM won’t run on such a system, there simply aren’t enough resources, since the VIC-20 doesn’t have enough RAM. But the project on this page is about SAM and this project does work perfectly fine on a VIC-20 (and also on various other Commodore computers that have a userport).

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    An Arduino is actually powerful enough to emulate a C64. With only a few external components, it outputs PAL or NTSC video and can be connected to any TV or composite input of an analog monitor.

    Arduino Emulates a Commodore 64!

    Arduino is actually powerful enough to emulate a C64. With only a few external components it outputs PAL or NTSC video and can be connected to any TV or composite input of an analog monitor.

    0:00 Introduction
    1:07 Emulation of the MOS 6510 CPU
    1:40 Memory mapping: How 64 Kilobytes are squeezed into a Arduino RAM
    3:17 Composite video output (VIC II emulation)
    5:05 Connecting a USB or PS/2 keyboard and entering a simple BASIC program
    5:57 Compare with the original C64
    7:04 320×200 Hi Resolution mode on Arduino Mega

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Can you replace your C64 PLA for under $3?

    Bad PLA chips (MOS 906114-01) are a super common problem for the “breadbin” Commodore 64 machines. There are replacements around but they aren’t that cheap. How about one you can build yourself at home for under $3?

    The GAL-PLA has been tested on longboard PCB 326298, 250407, 250425 and the SX64 with no compatibility issues or modifications required. Tested with Super Zaxxon, 1541 Ultimate II and Easy Flash 3 with no issues on both NTSC and PAL machines.

    0:00 – GAL-PLA Overview
    10:57 – Testing the GAL-PLA with Super Zaxxon
    13:45 – How to build your own PLA
    25:43 – Cost breakdown of the GAL-PLA replacement

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Can this sad broken C64 be saved?

    This Commodore 64 main board had so many things wrong with it, it was a fun challenge to get it working again. Previous owner(s) had caused damage to the board by removing chips, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to troubleshooting. It all starts with the dead test cartridge doing nothing.

    In this video, I show my techniques for troubleshooting and fixing all of the problems.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The daring and design that went into the best-selling computer of all time

    In JANUARY 1981, a handful of semiconductor engineers at MOS Technology in West Chester, Pa., a subsidiary of Commodore International Ltd., began designing a graphics chip and a sound chip to sell to whoever wanted to make “the world’s best video game.” In January 1982, a home computer incorporating those chips was introduced at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. By using in-house integrated-circuit-fabrication facilities for prototyping, the engineers had cut the design time for each chip to less than nine months, and they had designed and built five prototype computers for the show in less than five weeks.

    What surprised the rest of the home-computer industry most, however, was the introductory price of the Commodore 64: $595 for a unit incorporating a keyboard, a central processor, the graphics and sound chips, and 64 kilobytes of memory instead of the 16 or 32 that were then considered the norm.

    When the chip-development project started, the Commodore 64 was not at all what the designers had in mind. MOS Technology was a merchant semiconductor house.

    At a meeting with Charpentier and Winterble late that month, Jack Tramiel, then president of Commodore, decided not to proceed with the video game. Instead, he decided, the chips would go into a 64-kilobyte home computer to be introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the second week of January 1982. The computer had yet to be designed, but that was easily remedied.

    Following its enthusiastic reception at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Commodore 64 was rushed into production; volume shipments began in August 1982 and have continued unabated.

    Despite complaints about quality control and the industry’s slowest disk drive, the Commodore 64 has been an unparalleled success


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